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International students who worked in the US or received income are legally required to file a tax return.

If you didn't work or receive income in the US, you must file a Form 8843, which confirms your residency status for tax purposes.

ISS will email you information about Sprintax, the online tax assistance software available to OU international students. 

ISS is NOT permitted to assist any student/scholar with any IRS tax form preparation or tax related questions. The information provided is intended for your benefit. Any questions or concerns should be directed to Sprintax, a certified tax preparer or a local IRS field office.

If you have questions related to Sprintax, contact Sprintax at: or 1-866-601-5695


Who must file tax forms?

Even if you did not earn any income, if you were physically in the US on F or J status anytime between January 1st – December 31st of the past year, you’re obligated to file a Form 8843 with the IRS (the Internal Revenue Service, or ‘IRS’, are the US tax authorities).

Meanwhile, if you earned any taxable US source income, you may need to file a federal tax return with the IRS. Depending on your individual circumstances, you may also need to file a state tax return(s).

Tax Filing Deadline

Check the IRS wesite for this year's tax filing deadline.

Who is considered Resident or Nonresident for Federal Tax Purposes

Generally, most international students & scholars who are on F, J, M or Q visas are considered nonresidents for tax purposes. International students on J-1 & F-1 visas are automatically considered nonresident for their first five calendar years in the US, whilst Scholars/Researchers on J visas are automatically considered nonresidents for two out of the last six calendar years in the US.

If you’ve been in the US for longer than the five or two year periods, the Substantial Presence Test will determine your tax residency.

Important note about filing taxes incorrectly

Some international students erroneously file their taxes as a resident (using software like TurboTax) instead of as a nonresident alien (using software like Sprintax). If you prepare your taxes through other websites because you are promised (and may initially receive) a higher refund, your taxes will be incorrectly calculated. You will have to pay back your incorrect excess refund, possibly with large penalty fees to the federal government. Additionally, filing taxes incorrectly can hurt future applications for immigration benefits. Sprintax will correctly calculate your income tax.

If you filed incorrectly, it is important that you amend (correct) your previous tax returns for all incorrect years. If you are in this situation, you likely owe money to the US government.

If you need to correct past US tax filings, here are some options:

  • Sprintax can help you amend your tax return
  • VITA (Volunteer Income Tax Assistance): IRS-certified volunteers provide free basic income tax return preparation with electronic filing to qualified individuals in local communities. Currently all VITA locations are closed due to the Coronavirus pandemic, but are expected to reopen in June.
  • Using an online search, locate a tax accountant in your area.
  • IRS information on amending a tax return

How to file

We have teamed up with Sprintax to provide you with an easy-to-use tax preparation software designed for nonresident students and scholars in the US.

ISS is not qualified or allowed to provide individual tax advice.

After you log in to Sprintax, you will be asked a series of questions about the time you have spent in the US over recent years. Sprintax will then determine your tax status. If it determines that you are a “nonresident alien” (NRA) for federal tax purposes, you can continue to use the software and respond to a series of guided questions. Sprintax will then complete and generate the tax forms you need to send to the tax authorities.

However, if Sprintax determines that you are a resident alien for federal tax purposes, you won’t be able to continue using the software.

Step 1: Gather documents required to file your taxes


Visa/Immigration information, including form I-20 (F status) or form DS-2019 (J status)

Social Security or Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (if you have one)

  • This is not needed if you had no income and the 8843 is the only form you have to file.

Form W-2

  • Shows your earned wages and deductions from your earned wages
  • Usually sent out the week of February 1 by OU Human Resources
  • If you had more than one employer you should get a W-2 from each employer. 
  • Make sure all employers from last year have an up-to-date  address for you.

Form 1042-S

  • Students who claim tax treaty exemptions or who received a scholarship in excess of their estimated annual cost will receive this form
  • Usually sent out end of February or beginning of March by OU Human Resources
  • Note: Only Nonresident Aliens receive this form. If your tax status changes to a Resident Alien you will not get a 1042-S.  Log in to Sprintax to check your tax status if you’re not sure.

US entry and exit dates for current and  past visits to the US

  • In addition to passport stamps, you can review or  print your US travel history here


  • This form reports miscellaneous income. Can be interest on bank accounts, stocks, bonds, dividends,  earning through freelance employment


1098-T: This form is NOT needed and can NOT be used for a nonresident tax return because NRAs are not eligible to claim education expense tax credits.

Step 2: Create a Sprintax Account

You will receive an email from ISS providing you with a link to Sprintax to set up your account as well as your unique code to use on Sprintax. This unique code will cover the costs of the federal tax return and 8843 at no cost to you.

Open your new Sprintax account by creating a User ID and password or if you have an existing account on Sprintax you can login using your existing credentials.

Step 3: Follow the Sprintax instructions

If you did not earn any US Income: Sprintax will generate a completed Form 8843 for you and each of your dependents (if you have any).

If you did earn US Income: Sprintax will generate your “tax return documents”, including form 1040NR, depending on your circumstances.

Step 4: If required, complete your state tax return

After you finish your federal return, Sprintax will inform you if you need to complete a state tax return. If so, you will have the option to use Sprintax for an additional fee. However, it is your choice to use them or to do the state tax return on your own.

Step 5: Read the instructions for filing/mailing your returns 

Remember to read the instructions that Sprintax provides.

You will be required to download, print and sign your federal tax return and mail it  to the IRS. Depending on your circumstances, you may be able to E-file your Federal tax return. However, this will depend on certain eligibility criteria. You can learn more about eligibility in this Sprintax blog -

If you have a state filing requirement, you must also mail this to the tax authorities.

Finally, if you only need to file Form 8843, this will also need to be mailed to the IRS.

Form 8843

If you didn’t work or receive income in the US, you should file a Form 8843 which confirms your residency status for tax purposes. You can use Sprintax to help you complete Form 8843, or you can complete Form 8843 yourself.

Sprintax has posted instructions for completing Form 8843, linked here:

Need Sprintax Support?

If you need help while using Sprintax, you can contact their support team using the options below:

Email -   

24/7 Live Chat Help

Refer to their FAQs

You also have access to the Sprintax YouTube account where there are a number of educational videos on nonresident taxes. These will provide further clarity on nonresident tax and how to use Sprintax. Sprintax also offer a range of useful content on their blog to help you file your return.